Major League Baseball executive vice president Joe Torre reportedly issued a memorandum on Tuesday to provide clarity to the home-plate collision rules that have been implemented for the 2014 season.’s Jayson Stark reported on Torre’s message to the umpires, which concerns Rule 7:13. This is what Torre reportedly had to say:

Managers should continue to instruct their runners to slide into home plate, and to instruct their catchers to set up to receive a throw in fair territory. […] Managers who request a review of every play at the plate for a potential violation of Rule 7.13, even in circumstances when the rule clearly has not been violated…are doing a disservice to the game and creating unnecessary delay and controversy.         

[…] MLB has experienced virtually no collisions at the plate in 2014, and not one catcher has suffered a concussion or otherwise has been injured as a result of a collision. In addition, no player has been found to have deviated from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher. Rather, baserunners overwhelmingly have chosen to slide into home plate, which we strongly encouraged when Rule 7.13 was introduced prior to the start of the season.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported earlier Tuesday that a memo would be sent out to all 30 MLB teams for guidance on how to interpret Rule 7:13.

Stark’s report singled out a close play at the plate in a July 31 game between the Miami Marlins and Cincinnati Reds.

The Marlins lost the game because their catcher, Jeff Mathis, was in an improper position with his feet, impeding the baserunner from home plate. Umpires reviewed the play and ruled that the Reds were safe. Footage of the incident can be seen below:

Most of the emphasis Torre places on the rule is for umpires to essentially use common sense. If a catcher sets up in fair territory and is blocking the plate “against the rules” for a runner who is going to be out by a substantial margin, there is no need to fault the catcher about to prevent a run from scoring.’s Brendan Kuty weighed in on Torre’s reported memorandum:

Indeed, this reported statement from Torre didn’t do much in the way of clarifying the rules. It seemed to implore umpires to exercise better judgment, but plays at the plate are still rapid, in-the-moment decisions that are extremely subjective.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports hinted at this in his analysis:

In an effort to modernize the game with better use of instant replay to make plays at the plate more accurate, MLB seems to be slowing the pace of the game. Torre berated managers for challenging home-plate calls too often, which is a result of the fickle technicalities of the rule.

While the bottom-line outcome of plays at home should be more accurate in the long run, the rule changes Major League Baseball made are also backfiring to a degree. That Torre reportedly felt compelled to address the matter publicly shows the confusion that has accompanied this rule.

It will be interesting to see how Rule 7:13 impacts the rest of the playoff chase and the battle for the World Series. What transpires as the stakes get higher will determine the effectiveness of Torre’s reported plea to both parties with regard to the rule.

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